Rescue operation at Mt. Vardousia
Trapped jeepers on the freezing mountain of Vardousia had a happy ending. It was a very difficult operation executed by the 7th Special Disaster Respone Unit (EMAK) 6561 feet above sea level. The road froze to a point where not even a track equipped crawler could approach. The operation lasted about twelve hours and the five friends from Athens, were transported to a safe place.
The rescue of one of the five excursionists was announced by the Fire Service. The situation became much harder for the rest after 7th EMAK canceled the operation of their tracked vehicle. Even an all terrain vehicle provided by the Fire Service had great difficulty in moving safely on snow and ice, at places were the road was not existant. The only solution to the problem was to support the operation with the 7th EMAK's mountaineering team and the rescuing of the trapped, on foot with the assistance of special gear supplied by the Fire Service.
Head of the operation was the Amfisa's Fire Service commander, Dimitris Kefalas along with the vice commander of 7th EMAK Antonis Mihas. Base of the operation was the village of Athanasios Diakos. Two people from Amfisa, two more from Lidoriki and eight people from 7th EMAK were the ones that rescued the unfortunate five.
According to the reportage, a group of 5 friends from Athens in 4 vehicles, had went out for a Sunday excursion in the magnificent mountain range of Fokida but got trapped due to ice in a remote area, near the Vardousian refuges, between Artotina and Athanasios Diakos. At the beginning, they believed that they could find a way out with some of the vehicles, but as the sun was setting and the cold was bitting, the situation became much harder resulting in the huge rescue operation. In fact, one of the people had a panic attack.
Another team of offroaders happened to drive by the same area mentioned that, they were in route with 4 vehicles when they reached the trapped five:
The crews of two of our vehicles, walked with their own gear in order to help them, but but they were in panic, especially one of them. They did not accept any help, instead they decided to wait for help from EMAK. They five, were on the spot where the descent begins and a Jeep Renegade had slipped to the left with it's front left wheel hanging off the edge of the cliff, with it's crew included. The temperature was 24oF and the ice was hard as rock, like it had been there for years. Our 4 vehicles were spanning 870 yards to a mile away from first to last. We turned around and returned to Artotina. We were thankful to them though because their incident stopped us from proceeding and might have saved us from a simillar situation.
After the op, one of the rescue drivers noted that the person that had a panic attack, was an inexperienced co-driver, who we walked down to one of the Fire Service vehicles, in order to be transported to safety. No one else was in panic. The reason we didn't accept the other jeeper's help was because we had already alerted the state mechanism and it seemed wrong to cancel on them. Though, we do highly appreciate your offering. Also, the vehicle that was near the edge, the Jeep Wrangler JKU, had been secured as well as it's crew.
In the end, the succesful transport of the rest of the people to the base of the operation and village of Athanasios Diakos, was completed at around 3:15 am.